In my dissertation, I am pursuing a number of open questions concerning the legacy of traumatic events on subsequent political thought and action.
- One project investigates whether conflict-induced resettlement produces durable political behavior legacies. It does so by focusing on the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe into West Germany at the end of WWII, leveraging district-level data from 32 elections spanning 100 years.
- Another project examines whether past traumatic episodes engender durable political generations. If so, might such periods of trauma leave invisible scars on those not directly impacted by the violence? Theoretical expectations are tested in the context of the People’s Republic of China, employing 6 nationally representative surveys spanning two decades and a georeferenced database of violence during the Cultural Revolution.
- The final project utilizes extensive field research in Northern Ireland to better understand how individuals and communities grapple with the legacy of trauma. I have, thus far, conducted over 90 interviews with individuals from diverse backgrounds (security services, politics, victims groups, civil society, education, paramilitaries, and media), many of them either intimately involved with the conflict or with the post-conflict processes.
A rigorous examination of these issues has required the use of diverse sources and methods. I have been able to leverage archival, geospatial, and public opinion data to identify rich conditional associations. Meanwhile, extensive fieldwork and natural language processing techniques have allowed me to pursue specific causal mechanisms. Collectively, my dissertation builds on and extends both the theoretical and empirical literature on conflict legacy.